London, April 1: The UK’s Ministry of Justice is examining ways to relax rules around will writing in England and Wales following a surge in the number of people making preparations for their final farewell.

Currently, for a will to be valid, it must be signed by two witnesses present at the same time, and the witnesses must be independent and not related to the person to whom the will applies. Under current social distancing measures, especially for those in isolation at home or in hospital, it is almost impossible to adhere to the rules.

The Ministry of Justice is now looking at a temporary relaxation in the rules, which could involve reducing the number of witnesses required, or possibly accepting other solutions, such as video witnessing, The Guardian reported.

But the Ministry of Justice said any temporary relaxation of the rules would have to be balanced against the risk of fraud, with the rule about two independent witnesses historically in place to protect the vulnerable.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “This is a delicate area of law and we absolutely must continue protect the elderly and vulnerable against potential fraud. While there are no current plans to change the law, we will consider all options and keep this under review during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (Step), which represents professional will writers, said it has been in talks with the MoJ to ease the rules.

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2020/mar/31/uk-write-will-covid-19-crisis-witnesses

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